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Celebrate Music, Fashion, Art, Dance, and More as Spirit of Africa returns to Seattle Center | May 12-13

Woman, outside, drummers, ocean in the background
Photo by Noutou

In-person on May 13, with a virtual festival presented online on May 12

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SEATTLESpirit of Africa is back in person on Saturday, May 13, at Seattle Center, with a virtual festival presented online from Senegal on May 12. The free in-person festival presents traditional and contemporary music, a fashion show, art, food, a marketplace, dance workshops, and more!

Spirit of Africa is a celebration of music, dance, and the African culture. The festival provides space for a multi-generational gathering of locally and internationally acclaimed artists to showcase African music and dance’s richness, diversity, and joyfulness. The festival strives to educate the community about African culture and the importance of tradition in African countries.

“Our One Seattle vision goes beyond city lines and seeks to unite people from all backgrounds to uplift our diversity,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “The Spirit of Africa Festival is an opportunity to celebrate Seattle’s communities across the global sphere while also fostering a sense of belonging and appreciation of the art, culture, and people of the African diaspora.”

The virtual festival, filmed live at Chez Awa in Dakar, Senegal, takes place on Friday, May 12, at 6:00 p.m. via Facebook and Youtube. Hosted by The Jam Academy, the virtual festival features performances by Cheikh Lo Music, Dady Thioune, Bolero, Bakalama Danse, Dara Guisse, and Pape Seck Mafatim.

The in-person festival, on May 13 from 2:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., is returning to Seattle Center after moving to virtual in 2020. The day will include craft and food vendors, highlight clips from the virtual stream, and feature live performances by Zambuko Marimba EnsembleSahara Sounds, Hijos de AgüeybanáEritrean Youth Dance Group of Seattle, a fashion show by designer Zeynab Koroma (Africa Fashion Week Seattle), a Senegalese and Sabar Master Drumming set, and an Afrobeats dance break with DJ Lace Cadence.

The festival showcases the cultural and ethnic practices of African countries and the African diaspora for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the broader community. Its mission is to bring people together in peace, love, and unity. The festival has been active for 17 years, expanding its audience throughout the Northwest region and hosting over 1,500 people in 2019.

“The Spirit of Africa gives the city a chance to celebrate the music, dance, history and culture of Africa,” said Marshall Foster, Seattle Center Interim Director. “These rich cultural traditions allow people to come together in unity and share in these unique experiences that we are proud to be able to host at Seattle Center.” 

This year marks the 17th annual Spirit of Africa festival and performances will be posted online for future viewing after the festival’s live stream.

Admission is free of charge and this event is open to the public. For more information on this festival and to learn more about this collection of ethnic, cultural events, or call 206-684-7200.

About Spirit of Africa and its Producers

Thione Diop is a Seattle-based percussionist from Senegal, West Africa who tours internationally, teaches at the University of Washington and is the founder and co-producer of the annual Spirit of Africa Festival in Seattle. Inspired Child is an art, science, and heritage organization founded by Monique Franklin, whose mission is the transference of craft from those who are experienced to those inspired to learn. This is Spirit of Africa’s 17th year as a festival. Information on the festival is available at and

About Seattle Center Festál

Seattle Center Festál cultivates a deeper understanding of the cultures and ethnic diversity that contribute to the rich vibrancy of the Pacific Northwest. This unique series links together 24 free festivals presented on weekends from January to November, each with its own cultural focus, identity, and range of engaging activities. Seattle Center Festál is Where the World Gathers to celebrate the people, the places, the stories, and the traditions of the city’s communities. Seattle Center Festál is produced in partnership with 24 different community groups and supported by City of Seattle, Seattle Center Foundation, 4Culture, and KUOW. Festál is also part of the ArtsFund Cultural Partners Network.

About Seattle Center

Connect to the extraordinary at Seattle Center, an active civic, arts, and family gathering place in the core of our city and region. Seattle Center’s 74-acre campus, centered around the International Fountain, is part of the Uptown Arts & Cultural District and home to Climate Pledge Arena; more than 30 cultural, educational, sports, and entertainment organizations; and a broad range of public and community programs. In everything it does, Seattle Center’s mission is to create exceptional events, experiences, and environments which delight and inspire the human spirit to build stronger communities.

In 2023 Seattle Center is expanding its role to provide maintenance and public safety services for Seattle’s new Waterfront Park, a series of new public spaces on Seattle’s downtown waterfront between Pioneer Square and the Seattle Aquarium. Seattle Center will support managing these new waterfront public spaces in partnership with the non-profit Friends of Waterfront Seattle, which offers the community a range of recreational and cultural programming.  Thanks to the support of Official Seattle Center Partners – Alaska Airlines, The Climate Pledge, Coors Light, Pepsi, Premera, Symetra, T-Mobile, and WaFd Bank – Seattle Center is the #1 arts and entertainment destination in the Pacific Northwest with 12 million annual visitors, generating $1.864 billion in business activity and more than $631 million in labor income annually.